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Abstract

Although what Jesse Timmendequas did was abhorrent, the legislation enacted in the wake of his crime went far beyond making sure we know the pedophiles or pedophile-murderers living in our neighborhoods. Megan's name now lends itself to a host of state laws requiring the state to notify neighbors when a sex offender moves into the neighborhood. The term "sex offender" is intentionally broad, covering everyone from voyeurs and exhibitionists to rapists and child molesters. Yet, Megan's Laws treat them the same way, ignoring some crucial questions: Are all sex offenders alike? Are they all monsters? In reality, the majority of sex crimes are not the sort of violent rapes that are highlighted in news stories. Furthermore, the categorical treatment of sex offenders-despite significant differences in their crimes-has led to impulsive and overreaching new restrictions once they are paroled. States continue to look for new ways to control this population once they are released from prison. The most alarming of these new techniques are "no contact" restrictions, which prevent paroled sex offenders from having any interaction with persons under the age of seventeen, including their own children. These "no contact" conditions represent a drastic new step towards more restrictive parole that cannot be justified on public safety grounds. "No contact" parole restrictions test the constitutional limits of society's willingness to continue punishing sex offenders long after their release from confinement. The problem of states moving towards more restrictive conditions is a problem of categorical over-inclusion. Highly restrictive parole conditions may be necessary for some offenders (certainly for the Jesse Timmendequas of the world), but they are not necessary for all. This Article aims to expand current sex offender scholarship, focusing on the new "no contact" restrictions and the way in which the application of such restrictions to all sex offenders without individual review is not only unconstitutional, but also poor public policy.